The development and management of the fisheries sector in Sabah insofar as this is desired and targeted by the Government is guided by several major policies. At the national level, the main policy that guides the thrust of development of this sector is the Third National Agriculture Policy which covers the period 1999 to 2010. The main thrust of this policy is to seek the transformation of the agriculture sector to be one that is a modern, dynamic and competitive sector. Among others, this policy seeks to modernise the smallholder sector and ensuring sustainable agricultural and forestry sector, ensure sufficiency in the supply of food with high quality, increase private-sector participation, and maximising the utilisation of limited resources, such as land and water.
At the state level this national policy is given effect through the Second Sabah Agriculture Policy (DPNS2), which covers the same period. This state policy aims to turn Sabah into one of the major food production centres in Malaysia as well as transforms the agricultural sector into a modern, efficient, sustainable, dynamic and commercially-oriented and competitive sector.
The two policies above are guided by the more encompassing policies such as the National Vision Policy and the Third Outline Perspective Plan.
The Second Sabah Agriculture policy focuses on the development of three main subsectors, namely agriculture, fisheries and livestock. The fisheries sector is well addressed in DPNS2. Among the major policy thrusts is to seek a transformation in the industry to achieve one that is commercial, competitive and sustainable. The deep sea fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing sector are emphasised as key growth areas. Sustainable use and development of natural resources and fisheries stocks are also stressed. Human resource development as well as the improvement and upgrading of the livelihood of fishermen and farmers is also important policy focus. The increased production of food in the local fish fisheries and aquaculture sector is also given equal emphasis.
In the year 2003 the State Government has also reemphasised these policies. The Halatuju Policy targets the agriculture sector in Sabah as one of three (the other two being manufacturing and tourism) as key growth sectors of the local economy. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries, Sabah has also formulated its own policies to give effect and achieve the goals of the Halatuju policy.
The Sabah Head of State (Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Dipertuan Negeri) in his policy speech of 2007 has also reiterated the importance of achieving these objectives.
At the Fisheries Department level, it has formulated a number of policies and strategic plans to activate these noble targets. These include policies on capture fisheries, aquacultures, fish processing and human and rural development.